(continued from previous page)
software developer at Intel who recommended I get out from underneath a tangle of overhead cables. Last week, four people got electrocuted when a cable fell on a bus.
The sidewalk, though, is placid compared to the roadway. Cars, buses, pedestrians, mopeds and rickshaws weave erratically down the streets. Nine hundred cars get added to Bangalore's roads every day, locals point out, and to get a driver's license, it's not unknown for people to make an under-the-table payment to a driving school that will certify they have passed a road test. Six hours after arriving, I witnessed a pedestrian get mowed down by a moped. What should be a 15-minute ride can take an hour.
Street signs don't offer much help either. Signs have a corporate sponsor--Broadcom, Texas Instruments, Hutch (a local cell phone carrier). What they often lack is the name of the street, making getting lost one of the regular pastimes. One of the big intersections in town, for instance, is where Brigade Road crosses Brigade Road. "I never understood that," said Mashood, an engineering student I met on the street.
One of the better billboards in town, sponsored by 3M, lists traffic infractions. Anyone caught "using a shrill horn" gets fined 700 rupees ($15)--which is to say, everyone.
At work, subtle differences in corporate culture abound. Indian resumes, for example, can run five, six or even 10 pages--and that's for a 24-year-old.
"It might include the elocution contest that they won in grade school or what they did in the Boy Scouts," said Supratim Sakar, manager of strategic marketing at Wipro and an Indian native who will transfer to the United States soon. Wipro gets around the issue by forcing applicants to fill out its own condensed form of accomplishments and abilities.
Sick days abound. Employees take the day off when they are sick, but also to take care of a sick wife, aunt or other relative. "Here, family comes before work," Hamra said.
In addition, workers generally stroll in between 9 and 9:30 in the morning, just ahead of the tea break, Eugenis said. Later, lunch is followed by a ping-pong break.
The most difficult adjustment of all for many Americans, expats said, is getting a straight answer. Asking a bank attendant where the ATM is might get you information about how to open a new account instead. When Hamra asked for a light switch at a hardware store, the owner said, "Ah, you need lightbulbs." The word "no" is almost unheard of.
Still, despite all the hassles, Hamra admits that he and his wife will likely extend their two-year stint--something he hadn't preponed.
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas. He has worked as an attorney, travel writer and sidewalk hawker for a time share resort, among other occupations.
21 commentsJoin the conversation! Add your comment